The Spanish Riveter: Postcard from Bilbao by Katixa Agirre, translated by Katie Whittemore

The Streets of Gabriel Aresti

In the city where I live and write, there was a poet named Gabriel Aresti. In one of his poems, he beseeched: God forbid they put my name on a street in Bilbao. He was – how can I put it? – a giant. With very little support and enormous talent, he accomplished a momentous task. And he did so during the darkest years of a dictatorship. He took a battered, forgotten, scorned language, Euskara, which had already disappeared from Bilbao’s streets, and made it first-class literary material. He died young, at forty-one, my own age as I write these lines. In accordance with his wishes, Bilbao’s local government never named a street after him. They did, however, give him an avenue. Gabriel Aresti Avenue, in the Txurdinaga neighbourhood. Sometimes the wishes of poets come true in the most twisted of ways. 

By Katixa Agirre

Translated by Katie Whittemore

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